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The Architects

  

 

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On The Beat with Adam Phillips

 

If you haven't seen Adam Phillips in action, you're missing one of the hardest hitting drummers in Kansas City and beyond. His band The Architects has been a Kansas City institution for almost 10 years, with him and his brothers Brandon and Zach, and Keenan Nichols. Adam's balls-to-the-wall drumming style has lended to the band's success, which includes being a part of the 2010 Warped Tour and opening up for My Chemical Romance. Adam talks to us today about his long history as a drummer and his hard-hitting techniques. 

The Deli: How did the drums find you?

Adam PhillipsI started playing the drums when I was 9. My grandparents had given me a little kids drum set years earlier but that doesn't really count. When I was 9, my parents bought me a snare drum for Christmas and my neighbor gave me the rest of his old drum set. It was a cool old Ludwig 4-piece and I wish I still had it. The drums came with the requirement that I start taking lessons and even though I was the worst student EVER, my teacher taught me what I needed to get going. As for the "why" I started playing, I don't really remember. I suppose I was always a music lover. Tapping along with the songs on the oldies station in the car.

The DeliWhat type of kit do you use?

Adam: I play a big bad C&C custom-made kit, and although I want more and more drums, I would never ever ever ever part with mine. She's a beast, and I love her.

The DeliYou've been in bands with your brothers for a number of years. How's that dynamic different than being in a band with people you aren't so closely related to?

AdamYeah yeah, I play in a band with my brothers and I always have ever since I picked up a pair of drumsticks. I don't know any other way. It makes it hard sometimes to play with non-brothers when I do a studio session with another band or fill in for someone else on a gig. Brandon, Zach, and I can write and arrange music only using bizarre music reference language that most people wouldn't get right away. Example: "All right. 4 bars of the Nine Inch Nails thing and then drop the Blondie beat before the Helmet part” (but none of it sounds remotely like NiN or Blondie or whatever). Keenan Nichols caught on fast though, and he fucking rules to play with.

The DeliYou're one of the heaviest hitting drummers in KC. What's your approach to playing the drums?

Adam I play with the butt-end of my drum sticks and I play extra long heavy sticks because Rock and Roll drums just sound better loud. And I play better when I play with every ounce of energy I can muster. 

I learned at a young age that when I play more reserved and try to express a lot of subtle stuff, I end up just playing like most everyone else and anyone listening can tell. But when I really give it hell and play with everything I have, there's a kind of special energy to it and when I just let go, sometimes something clicks and a little bit of unrehearsed magic happens. Also should be noted that sometimes I fall flat on my face. But the risk is worth the reward. 

In a world where every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks they should play live music, it becomes painfully clear that if you want to give people a reason to keep paying the ticket price at the door, you need to give them what they paid for and try to put on a real show.

The DeliYou also play in the SKA/reggae-style band Sex Police and have done several other small projects. Has that caused you to take a different approach to your playing?

Adam: I've had the pleasure of playing a lot of different types of music through the years with The Gadjits, Sex Police, and bunch of other small projects. They all make a mark on my playing.  You can never stop learning new licks ad new styles if you really love playing. I'm not reinventing the wheel by a long shot, but it keeps me busy trying to learn the best ways to play what I hear in my head.

The DeliGot a favorite ass-kicking drum fill that comes to mind?

AdamThe first big tom and double kick fill in “Hot For Teacher”! Van Halen, not Van Hagar!

The DeliWho are your biggest influences?

AdamKeith Moon, Max Roach, Lloyd Knibb, Charlie Watts.

The Deli: You've been in the KC music scene for a long time. Are there any other drummers around here that you think have that same bombastic, machine-like energy as you?

AdamI love this question! In no particular order: Duck McLane (Blue Riddim), Go-Go Ray, Mike Dillon, Chris Metcalf (The Life and Times), Brett Southard (Cherokee Rock Rifle), Marshall Kilpatric (The Esoteric), Lance Bennett (The Leo Project), Mike MiniBarf Myers (Olivetti Letter, In The Pines), Rob Veitch (The Hearers), Jason Gerken (Shiner), and Alex Organ (Sirhan Sirhan, Overstep). There are a ton of great drummers in this town, but right now these are the ones that come to mind. They all have very different styles, but I love them all.

The Deli: You guys have done huge tours around the country. I imagine playing hard every night takes a toll on your body. Any advice for drummers who are beginning to tour?

Adam: Don't be a dumbass. Tour is hard work. It's not a vacation from your home life. If you treat it like it is, that's all it will be. Take care of yourself. Drink water. Get some sleep. Also, watch the drummers of the other bands, but try not to learn anything from the shitty ones.

The Deli: So, what's next for The Architects? What do you think the future holds for you guys?

Adam: A lot. We have been writing and recording and working our fingers to the bone to make something extra special, but its not done yet so I can't really talk about it. I hope to make a big announcement or two soon! Stay tuned!

Adam will be filling up the sound of The Beaumont Club with his merciless pounding of the drums next Saturday at Apocalypse Meow. The Architects will be headlining the event.

--Michelle Bacon
Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. In 5th grade, she dressed up as a computer programmer when everyone had to dress up for their dream job. She is not a computer programmer and never would be.

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Adam Phillips

Photo by Todd Zimmer

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Show review: The Architects (with Radkey and Hipshot Killer) at recordBar, 8.10.12

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

Life can be an asshole sometimes. It is without balance and as unstable as a drunken college girl with daddy issues. We’ve all been there. Everyone knows that girl. The date is going fine. She’s enjoying her dinner and talking about her cats when suddenly and without warning she’s crying about needing a hug. Her makeup streaks and the cheerleader you brought to Applebee's suddenly looks like Alice Cooper. Out of nowhere life and everything that exists within it takes a 90-degree turn and the relaxing evening you had planned melts into a shitmess. By the end of the night there is no room or need to question why cheerqueen’s dad never returned.

But what does this have to do with music you ask? Aren’t you reviewing The Architects?

Okay, okay. I’m getting there.

Much like the above scenario, music can be a fickle, fickle bitch.Take watching a show for example. On any given night, fans are making a 20-dollar commitment on a 50/50 bet. Generally speaking, catching a good show is nothing more than a coin flip. Any band, even ones commonly known for owning the stage could have an off night without warning. Because guitars sometimes untune, members sometimes get drunk, venues hire underqualified sound guys, and people have bad days, there is no getting around the fact that sometimes good bands are going to let you down. There is no exception to this rule.

Except that somehow The Architects DO seem to be the exception to that rule.

Plagued by sickness and nausea, Kansas City’s punk poets pushed through their return to the recordBar, pressing out one of the most full tilt takes on music that 2012 has presented to me. Drenched in sweat by the third cut, the brothers Phillips and guitarist Keenan Nichols put in more cardio on stage than most people do in a lifetime. Twitching, jerking and slamming around the room, every note becomes a point of exclamation. Not only are the guys not fucking around, they’re going to make damn sure you know that they know what they’re doing. Night in and night out, their blue-collar, punch-the-clock approach to their craft can be felt as fluently as the stand in front of you. They not only intend to bring the rock, they intend to slap you in the face with it.

Unlike all other measures of life however, that aggression is a commendable quality in music. Take, for example, the way the band approaches headcount. Lesser bands might raise a stink about playing a three-quarters full recordBar after adding tours with My Chemical Romance and Flogging Molly. However on this night, a casual observer would assume the band was playing Shea Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd. As every night is their Super Bowl, your cover charge is taken care of before the end of the first song. There is no room for disappointment, musically or visually.

Combining the pure elements of punk with their obvious 1990s influences, the diversity of the band is rather amazing. This isn’t your average three-chord punk band. With sounds dating back to their time as The Gadjits, elements of calendar days long gone bleed out of their set lists. Twitching from influences by The Clash to particles of a rockabilly sound to a “Banditos”-like The Refreshments sound, anyone who has liked music in the last 15 years can find something familiar about the band. Furthermore, even if you were born after the fall of flannel, watching the band flex its musical muscle is unquestionably for everyone. As Brandon leans from the mic and howls his message with sweat dripping down across his nose, it is impossible not to be touched a little by the passion of the group. But if that isn’t enough for you to be convinced, I’ve formed a small list to leave you. You can read it below:

The totally unbiased list of reasons why you should love The Architects:

1. No one in Kansas City drums harder than Adam Phillips.
2. The band not only still writes guitar solos, Keenan Nichols owns them.
3. Zach’s bass lines, combined with Adam’s drums, will make you shake your ass.
4. They’re the hardest working band in Kansas City.
5. Chances are they were making music when you were learning to color. They know more about music than you do.
6. It is better than dating a girl with daddy issues.

And with that, I’ve gone full circle.

For more photos from this show taken by the amazing Todd Zimmer, follow the link here.

 --Joshua Hammond

After stints drumming for both The Afternoons and Jenny Carr and the Waiting List in the Lawrence/Kansas City music scene, Joshua Hammond found his footing as a music journalist, launching the national publication Popwreckoning. After running the show as Editor in Chief for 6 years, Hammond stepped away from the reigns to freelance for other publications like Under The Gun Review and High Voltage Magazine. This shift allowed the adequate amount of time for him to write passionately, allow the Kansas City Royals to break his heart on a daily basis and spoon his cats just enough that they don't shred his vinyl. 

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Photos: The Architects/Hipshot Killer/Radkey at recordBar, 8.10.12

 

 


Solomon Radke of Radkey


(L to R) Isaiah, Solomon and Dee Radke of Radkey


Brad Wicklander of Hipshot Killer


Chris Wagner of Hipshot Killer


Adam Phillips of The Architects


Keenan Nichols of The Architects


Brandon Phillips of The Architects

 

 

All photos by Todd Zimmer. Please do not use without permission. 

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Dee Radke of Radkey
 
  Isaiah Radke of Radkey
 


Mike Alexander of Hipshot Killer

 
 
  Brandon Phillips of The Architects

(L to R) Zach, Adam and Brandon Phillips and Keenan Nichols of The Architects

 
Zach Phillips of The Architects 

 

 
 

 

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